Most moderators can be a little hesitant to interrupt the president of the United States, even if he has gone on a little long. Not Osman Yaya, the sixth grader from Salisbury, Maryland, who interviewed President Obama Thursday.
While the president was answering a question about writing, Yaya gently prodded him, "I think you've sort of covered everything about that question."
"Osman thinks I've been talking too long," the president acknowledged to the 40 middle schoolers in the room.
President Obama visited Anacostia Library and answered questions during a town hall meeting about reading, education and technology from students in the room, as well as from around the country.
At the event, the president announced that some of the country's biggest book publishers would be donating $250 million worth of ebooks to children from low-income families.
The president told the students that he still likes to read Dr. Seuss (especially "Horton Hears a Who"). As a kid, he read the Hardy Boys series, Treasure Island, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And he kept reading children's books as a parent - his daughter Malia listened to him read the entire Harry Potter series to her when she was a child.
Although the event was about ebooks, Mr. Obama admitted he still prefers books printed on paper. He acknowledged that carrying around a stack of e-books is far easier than carrying a stack of paper books.
And as the writer of a few books himself, he advised any budding authors in the audience that the best way to overcome writer's block is to "scratch out ideas and write down anything that comes to your mind," take a break, and go back and revise your first draft.
He was reminded again how much things have changed since he was a child when he was asked what technology he had access to when he was in school. The president answered, "Pencils." And typewriters. Mr. Obama then explained to an audience that was too young ever to have been exposed to the computer's precursor how typed mistakes were corrected.
He told them, "You'd have to get this thing called white-out which was this little liquid . . . you'd have to wait 'til it dries, then blow on it . . . you'd have to figure out like where the margins were at the bottom. The whole thing was a hassle. Sometimes it took you longer to type the paper than write the paper."